Tax Rollback Special Election on

May 13

by Crystal Gottfried, Staff Writer

With just four more days until the tax rollback election, people on both sides of the issue are preparing for the voters' decision.

Proponents for rolling back Comal County's recent 12.5 percent tax increase back to the state's 8 percent cap are expecting help from anti-tax organizations from Houston and Austin to get people to the polling places and to wave signs encouraging voters to approve the rollback.

Reports have been confirmed that the signs on TX Hwy. 46, asking for citizens to vote for the rollback, have been paid for by an Austin group who has been working with proponents.

On the other side, opponents to the tax rollback, notably a citizens' political action committee, Save Our Services, as well as the local chairmen of both Republican and Democratic parties, the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce as well as the Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce, the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung and the New Braunfels/Canyon Lake Realtors Association, have spoken out to encourage voters to cast their ballots against the rollback.

On Saturday, May 13, County residents will decide either to send a punitive, clear message to our county officials "that enough is enough" as proponent Douglas Kirk, Canyon Lake publisher, initiator of the tax rollback petition would like or voters will support county officials, vote against the rollback, and allow them to keep the 9/10 of one cent to continue "moving forward, not rolling backward" as opponent Joe Tays would like.

In either case, county officials have made it clear that increased, unfunded state mandates for indigent health care, indigent legal defense, and juvenile detention costs, as well as the rising costs of gasoline, insurance and other increased expenses added significantly to the cost of doing business for the county this year.

The loss of jail revenues plus the revenue loss associated with the over 65 tax freeze also added a strain on commissioners and county departments when preparing the county's 2006 budget.

While many proponents seem to think that county officials are "flush" with cash from sales tax revenues, opponents to the tax rollback understand that the sales tax income generated in the county is calculated into the effective tax rate reducing it by 7 cents per $100 assessed valuation. Without the additional sales tax revenues, county taxes would be 7 cents higher.

While proponents say that voters should "punish" county officials for going above the 8 percent effective tax rate, which is the rate at which the county can collect the same amount of taxes as in the previous year, opponents to the tax rollback say that Comal County taxes are very low compared to other counties in our region because of conservative and fiscally responsible spending by our commissioners.

This was only the second time in seven years that the county tax rate was increased after a one cent boost following the 2002 flood and the Comal County tax rate is in the bottom 5 percent of the 254 counties in Texas.

While proponents urge citizens to "reduce your taxes" by voting for the tax rollback, opponents say to vote against the rollback because cutting the county's budget by over $650,000 midway through the year would "affect your county services."

Voters will decide the issue on May 13.

One thing is sure, if the rollback is approved, the added costs of refunding taxes to taxpayers will be paid for by those same taxpayers.

And that will be yet another significant rise in the cost of doing business that county commissioners will need to deal with for the 2007 budget.

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